Shake It Off

skeletons-32459_1280I recently created a music playlist to listen to when we are hanging out on the patio.  I tried to pick songs that make you want to get “jiggy”.  That’s code word for dancing, not the OTHER jiggy.

I went back in time for some of them, for favorites, and to add variety.  Remember “Dancing on the Ceiling” by Lionel Ritchie?  Watch the video on YouTube, it will make you smile.

Dancing is healthy for mind, body and soul.  It gets you moving, maybe singing along and it just lightens your soul.  And it is portable.  We have a little above ground pool on the patio, just big enough to cool off on a warm summer day, and spend quite a bit of time there.  We can fit 4 inner tubes without crowding and it is butt-deep.  Ever dance in an inner tube?  Okay, wiggle, but you get the idea.  Just don’t wiggle too much lest you wish a mouthful of pool water.  Needless to say, it has been a fun way to beat the heat and listen to some great tunes.

Dancing can also help heal the soul.  I recently read some articles discussing the shaman’s “Skeleton Dance”.  After you have done some emotional healing work, it is recommended that you do this dance to shake off and out the residual energy.  First, picture a skeleton hanging by a string.  Give it a shake and watch how all the bones rattle around.  It is a very loose dance and probably not much different than what you might do when you are drunk.  Just don’t drink alcohol when you are doing healing work as it defeats the purpose.  Well, duh.  Drunkenness is probably why you need to do the healing work in the first place!!  So let’s practice. . .err, give it a try.

Stand up.  Get your a$$ up off the sofa, it is time to get jiggy!  Start swinging your arms around like they are loose in your shoulder socket.  Loosen up those elbows, your wrists and even your fingers.  Do the same with your legs and move on up through your hips and waist.  Head too.  Just let loose and shake it loose.  Quit worrying about what you look like, you are supposed to be a skeleton, remember?  Jiggle around until you feel relaxed and fluid.  Then stop and just stand there for a bit and tune into your body.  How do you feel?  There should be some measure of less stress.  You should always do some method of body release work after emotional healing to avoid keeping it trapped in your body.  The skeleton dance is a fun and effective way to do this.

So why don’t you cue up “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” by Will Smith or “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift and dance your way to joy.

Some Like It Hot

saguaro-2714996_1920We recently spent a week in Phoenix.  Yes, the middle of the desert, in the midst of summer.  I like warm weather.  I like sunshine.  I like being outdoors.  I like swimming pools and gardens and outdoor cafes.  The temperatures in Phoenix were pushing the low 100s, so we spent more time indoors with the frigid air-conditioning than I would have liked.  I hate cold blowing air, but I realize it is a necessity.

Some don’t like it hot.

I would much rather float in a swimming pool to cool off.  Fortunately, our friends have a little pool in their backyard so I got my wish.

Some like it wet.

The desert is an interesting place.  A kind of stark beauty, with cactus and shrubs and the eerily lovely green-barked palo verde trees.  They are a much-needed contrast to the terracotta and sand tones of the desert.  There is very little grass, as there is very little water and what there is fills up the many swimming pools.  All-in-all, I’d say the dryness contributes to the heat.

Some like it dry.

To my very great relief, I did not see any scorpions or tarantulas.  I’m told that the scorpions are usually very small and you can’t see them unless you use a black light.  Seriously.  WTF.  I stored my shoes in the dresser while we were there for fear that one of the little buggers would take up residence in them.  I’m not really sure what I would do if I saw one.  Probably something similar to my reaction of the high-rise hotel in Honolulu.  (see blog post “Defcon Five”)  Is there such a thing as Defcon Six?

Some don’t like creepy crawlies.

There are some pretty cool (no pun unintended) places to live in the Phoenix area, if you are into year-round heat.  If you are an active over-55er, Sun City West would cure you of permanent boredom.  There a several golf courses and rec centers, and when I say “rec center” they are on steroids.  If you ever had one boring day living there, then you are probably dead.

Some like it busy.

Still, I’m not sure I would want to live there.  I like being warm, but I would miss having seasons.  As much as I b*tch about being cold and go nutty long about April, changing seasons is interesting.  The birth of flowers in the spring, orange and red and yellow leaves in the fall, a touch of snow, well it’s the cycle of life.  Plus I would miss wearing my purple [faux] fur coat.  And the leopard one too.

Some like fuzzy stuff.

It takes visiting different places to make you appreciate where you live and what you have.  I like my little neighborhood.  I like the lake.  I like seeing the mountains in the distance.  Right now, I have the window open and I can hear the music from the weekly street fest.  It’s home and it’s where I am happiest.

Some like to call it home.

Bloom Where You Are Planted

 

“Happiness is not having what you want.  It is wanting what you have.”  This quote by Rabbi Hyman Schachtel always seemed perplexing to me.  I focused too closely on the “not having what you want” portion and totally missed the meaning behind it.

We all exist in a state of want.  More money, better job, nicer home, prettier clothes, more loving partner, the list is endless.  But just “wanting” will keep you in a state of more want.  These days, everything happens quickly and we can exist in a state of insatiable desire.  And most all of it can be achieved in minutes.  But is that what it really takes for happiness?

“It is wanting what you have.”

The second portion of that quote is too often where we get messed up.  Once upon a time, I thought it meant be happy with what you got ‘cause you ain’t gettin’ any more.  Sad.  That is existing in a belief state of lack.  Feeling lack is what gets you stuck in want.  Feeling lack leaves us never feeling satisfied with what we have.  We believe we are missing out on something better, even if everything we Need is surrounding us. 

Lack prevents us from feeling happy.

Abundance is free.  Abundance is your connection to the Universe and knowing that everything you need will be provided for you.  You may have to take action steps to get that, but if you listen to the Universe you will be guided on what to do.  When you feel abundant, you will never want what you don’t need.  I have no interest in having an airplane, so I obviously don’t need it.  Sometimes when you feel abundant you will need less.  Everything you have will support you and you will move through life with more ability to handle stresses.  So how do you feel abundant?

Ask the Universe to help you.

“Universe, please help me to feel abundant in all forms.  Help me to open my heart to experience all that I need.  Thank you for helping me to allow this in my life.”

As you practice this, you will begin to feel differently about your life.  You will likely still want things, but they will be what you need and you will discover ways to have them in your life.

Especially if they are already there.

Freedom

religion-3426187_1920 (1)It is the 4th of July in America.  People all over are waving flags, watching parades, staring in wonder at dazzling fireworks displays, and consuming vats of food and drink.  I think sometimes we forget what it really means.

What is freedom?

We know that it represents Independence Day, or the birth of the United States.  It changed the world and the people that created it.  But what does freedom mean to you?

Freedom is the right to speak and act without hindrance.  It is not the right to do this without regard for others and causing them harm.  It is not the right to harm creatures and property.

Freedom is about choice.  It is about the ability to think, to decide, to act upon what is for your highest and best good.  It is about choosing who you want in your life.  It is choosing a career path that makes you happy and utilizes your skills.  It is wearing what you like.  It is doing the things that make you happy and fulfilled.  When you feel happy and fulfilled, your life will feel smooth.  Oh, it will never be without issues, for you are human after all.

Freedom is simply just a thought process.  It is allowing your thoughts to run wild, imagining, dreaming, just completely letting loose.  They are just thoughts after all and don’t have to be shared or put into action.  “Die Gedanken Sind Frei” is an old German song about the freedom of thought.  Its lyrics speak of thoughts being within your mind where no one can shut them down and no one can imprison you.

That is the true meaning of freedom.

So how will you set your mind free?

Progress – Forward and Backwards

site-285645_640This morning, my sweetie and I walked around the lake.  It’s a three-mile hike, but there are many things to see including the gradual progression of a new residential building.  It has been interesting to watch it grow, floor-by-floor, as men and tower cranes add wood and steel.  The view will be fabulous, along with the prices of the units.  It will have everything, including delivery from the proposed eateries on the ground floor, so I suspect it will be quite worth it.

Many layers of moving upward.

We generally think of progress as moving forward or upwards, and is often associated with an improvement of sorts.  We make a plan, set goals, track the timeline and then reach a desired outcome.  Hopefully, it comes with the sense of satisfaction.

But what about the times when progress is going backwards?

This, too, can be a necessary goal and lead us to better things.  Taking a step back gives you time to review.  This month, five planets will be going retrograde.  Retrograde is the appearance of a planet moving backwards.  Think Michael Jackson’s Moon Walk in the sky.  (They don’t really move backwards, it just looks like it.)  Retrograde forces us to slow down and do all things “re-“.  Review, rewrite, replace, renew, recycle, redo, restrict, retrace, repurpose, release, to name a few.  Don’t sign on the dotted line until you read the fine print.  Don’t take those marriage vows if you have a sickly feeling in your gut.  Wait to buy that car.  Pay for that inspection on the house you are considering.

Believe me, if you do things during a retrograde, you will live to regret it.  One of the more powerful retrogrades is Mercury.  Mercury loves to wreak havoc on your electronic devices.  Do you know how to say “back-up”? Yep, been down that road.  In addition to all this planetary love, we have two eclipses in July.  Talk about change-making!  If you allow it, the Universe will have your back and direct you towards your best life.

Even if it means going backwards.

The Duel of Duality

yin-yang-2024615_640Black or white.  Dark or light.  Good or bad.  Happy or sad.  Which do you choose?  Which is really you?

To everything there are two sides.  We have the choice of which side we want to be, but it too often seems to be an inner duel as to which side is the most powerful.  And too often, we turn to the lesser, the darker, and the easier choice and leave ourselves wondering why we are not satisfied.

The war within is fought by our belief system.  If you are the product of a difficult upbringing, have health issues, frightening surroundings then you likely turn towards the darker side.  It is still always a choice.  So why not choose the light?

Because Fear is a stern master.

We are ego-driven humans and the ego thrives on fear.  The ego wants total control of you.  The ego wants you dependent on its whims of desperation, despair and defeat.  I’ve read that it takes 21 muscles to smile and next to nothing to frown.  (I haven’t fact-checked that.)  If that is true, then it is easy to see why we gravitate towards sadness and disappointment.

But enough of that sorry sh*t.

I had a sh*tty day at work.  Enough that I wanted to crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head, and stay there for the next century.  By some blessed chance of fate, my sweetie didn’t know what to have for dinner and it so happened that this evening was the first of the summer Thursday music and market fest in our neighborhood.  So I suggested we wander over and see what was on the food truck.  A huge amount of battered catfish and fries, which along with a beer I don’t usually drink, will cause me to regret that in the middle of the night.  In spite of the tasty grease-bomb, there was live music, people, dogs, vendors, farmers market wares and just an air of a happy summer evening.  EXACTLY what I needed to pull myself out of my bottom-of-the-sh*pile-funk.  It was a choice, you see.

fencing-1683513_1920We always, always, always have the choice of whether we go towards the light or down in the dark, even if you think the situation is utterly impossible for that.  In those times, we must look deep within and find the light within ourselves, the goodness, the capableness, the loveable-ness.  I told myself that I am intelligent, capable and damn sure know what I’m doing even if some a$$hole disagrees.  So when you are faced with a seemingly dark situation, swish your tip up and yell, En Garde!!

And watch the dark disappear.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Recently, at work, the subject of dress code has surfaced again.  We have a new director, and he is getting his feet wet in all areas of the business.  After initiating the topic of shoes, he wisely turned the dress code idea over to a team of women.  Women police each other, after all.

59745-2001_CEREZA[1]Many a man, to his everlasting regret, has ventured in to the female shoe closet thinking to discuss the quantity, cost, necessity, appropriateness and style of female footwear.  Many of them wisely retreated when they notice the squinty eyeball staring back at them.  A brave few thought to continue the topic, and then determined that there is a fine line between brave and dumb.  Some hearty souls continued on, and were grateful that the living room sofa was a comfortable place to sleep.  And some were never heard from again.

The only men who can safely traverse the domain of the female shoe are those of a “different persuasion”, or the Great Oz of Shoes himself: Mr. Manolo Blahnik.  Should Mr. Blahnik ever appear in a woman’s shoe closet, especially if he were bearing gifts, she could succumb to a heart attack at that very moment and consider her life complete.

51g35jLUYvL._SX356_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Shoes represent the Holy Grail to women.  They are the ultimate form of self-expression.  We willingly spend thousands of dollars for coveted pairs, suffer untold agony and blisters for a few hours of wearing a spindly high needle for the praise of a friend or stranger.  Women have made new friends over a pair of shoes.

A beautiful pair of shoes can brighten a woman’s day.  Knowing that pain could come later, she will still step out proudly and with confidence that she can kick a$$.  An ugly pair. . .well, can make a woman feel ugly.  They are the equivalent of Superman’s kryptonite.  A necessity, if you will.

Oh and if you are available, Mr. Blahnik, my closet is open. . . size 7, if you please.

Response-ability

Do you often feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of things you have to do in any given day?  I suspect that is probably normal for many people.  Too many commitments, too much wanting, too many expectations.

I took the word responsibility and split it into two parts, and created a new meaning.  “The ability to respond.”

We often take on more than we can handle because we think we should.  If you said “no” to things that don’t belong to you or you don’t feel good about, what are the consequences?  Sometimes you have to say no to people, because if you don’t , they will never learn a much-needed lesson.  The world is full of overworked and overcommitted people.

But what about the people that can’t respond?

I’m going back to the subject of depression, because it is very difficult to understand what is going on.  I have experienced times of depression.  Fortunately, they have been minimal.  I tend to go more the other way, as I have anxiety disorder.  Anxious people are usually the overcommitted, because having control over things keeps your environment manageable if not calm.  Anxious people look for sh*t on the horizon and plot and plan to keep it shoveled away.  I have worked (there’s that word again!) very hard to keep the horizon sh*tpile from blocking my view.

Depression doesn’t even let you see the sh*tpile on the horizon.  Depression says the sh*tpile is inside you.  Depression turns your brain chemicals to sh*t and sends your energy down the toilet.  Depressed people struggle with getting out of bed, much less changing out of their pajamas.  There is no hope.  And they can’t help it.

I’m not a psychologist, so I don’t profess to know all the ins and outs of this debilitating disease.  I have studied it and have experienced a level of it.  Meds don’t always help and many people don’t like to take them because they often create a “foggy” brain.  Many years ago, I took meds for anxiety.  They took away the anxiety, but they also took away my “red flag” filter and I married an alcoholic while I was on them.  Not too many months into the marriage, I weaned off the meds and woke up to the reality of life with a nasty person.  I suffered through it for 7 years, at a great cost to my self-esteem.  In the final years of the marriage, I sometimes went to sleep at night wishing I wouldn’t wake up.  That is what depression will do to you.  (Obviously I got through it or you wouldn’t be reading this blog.  The blog has served as a healing platform.)

I’m sharing this because of the recent celebrity suicides and all the “whys?” surfacing all over social media.  The “whys” are because THEY CANNOT FIND THEIR WAY UP.  Family, friends, money, fame, social status, good physical health. . .cannot fix what is happening to the soup in their brains.  They cover it up and medicate themselves with some sort of substance abuse or addiction, which sends them further out of control. The lucky few respond to outreach, or rescued attempt, and live on to maintain, thrive and even be a spokesperson for help.  But too many, like Kate and Anthony and people you love, absolutely believe that the only way out. . . is Out.

If you know someone who struggles with depression, first do not condemn them.  THEY CANNOT HELP IT.  Find a way to offer your support.  Wrap them in love.  Hold the vision that love is literally pouring into their body and filling them up.  Gently poke and prod them to keep going.  Be the sunshine in their life as they can’t see their own.

And remember, that you too, deserve love and caring and someone to hold your hand.

Character

ethics-2991600_640I found a little saying in a magazine many years ago, clipped it, and pinned it to my bulletin board at work.

“Character – Be True to your Word, your Work and your Friends.”

fashion-3080181_640You can be a character, eccentric and colorful, or an actor in a movie, play or book.  I like to think I’m a little bit colorful.  But the other definition spoke to me more.

“The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.”  To me, this definition speaks of integrity whose definition is much the same.  Another simple way of saying this is “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

 

Character or integrity should be an important aspect of who we are.  If you are wishy-washy or evasive, people will lose trust in you.  Integrity is a favorable quality to have in your work, one that will get you recognition, promotions and possibly more money.  Having integrity will build character and that will earn respect.  You can be likeable and even lovable, but if you don’t have integrity you won’t get respect.

business-1869266_640Stand by your word.  Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes – you will actually get more respect by being honest and truthful.  It also helps if you step up to the plate and take action to repair the damage, even if you have to ask for help.

If someone asks you to do something that compromises your integrity, say no.  If you know that what you are doing is legally, ethically and morally right, stand on that and follow through.  Saying no to someone’s demand that you do something in opposition to that, might momentarily get you in trouble, but ultimately you will be respected and recognized for doing the right thing.

God knows we have so many people with so few ethics, that you need to hold onto every little bit you have.

Because, really, the only person you really have to answer to is yourself.

 

 

Parts Unknown – Heaven

clouds-2709662_640The 2nd in a week, Anthony Bourdain was found dead of apparent suicide. May he rest in peace.

anthony-bourdain-parts-unknownHis TV show, Parts Unknown, was entertaining and interesting and pulled us out of our busy world and into adventure. Anthony lived life to the fullest, sucking every last drop of fun out of his existence. A self-proclaimed alcoholic and prior drug user, he battled his demons through his passion for food. Heaven will be eating well.

 

restaurant-2697945_640Like Kate Spade, creativity appeared to be the outlet for all the good within. Something beautiful, whether a handbag or a dish to be savored for an evening, their true self and soul shined through. We have all benefited from their contributions.

Addictions typically mask pain. Many people are afraid to deal with their pain for the fear that it will never go away. You MUST feel, then deal and THEN you will heal. You don’t have to do it alone and there is no shame in asking for help. Your family and friends don’t need to know the details. Surprisingly, pain can be present in your life from birth. It comes in from past lives. I realize that not everyone believes in this, but I know it to be true. Why else can a small child, in a pleasant environment, display “issues”?

If you battle addictions, mental illness, or ongoing negative behavior patterns, please do something to heal yourself. There is nothing in your life that can’t be replaced with something better. You are a beautiful human being. Your needs, your feelings, your very life is important to the Universe. You are here for a greater purpose. Maybe you are here to teach someone else that you can recover from whatever troubles you and live peacefully. Maybe there is a culinary delight or fabulous handbag in your future.

I wonder what’s for dinner in The Universe Cafe tonight? Cheers, Anthony.